18th August     No Comments

A leak at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing facility on Cumbrian coast, England

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A leak at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing facility on Cumbrian coast, England

Monday, May 9, 2005

At the Sellafield reprocessing plant, a leak in the process was spotted on April 19. The leak did not cause danger to people or the environment but it disturbed the normal operation of the plant.

Workers at the plant noticed a discrepancy in the amount of material being reprocessed that enters pipes that lead to a set of centrifuges and the amount of material actually arriving at the centrifuges. They used remote cameras to find the crack where the material was escaping; over twenty tonnes have leaked into a steel lined chamber.

The material, consisting of mostly uranium and some plutonium dissolved in nitric acid, would have been reprocessed in the centrifuges. The large stainless steel chamber that now contains the spilled material is too dangerous to enter due to radioactivity, though it poses no danger to those inside or outside the plant.

The plant has been shut down pending repairs.

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11th August     No Comments

Soul musician Luther Vandross dies at age 54

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Soul musician Luther Vandross dies at age 54

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Musician Luther Vandross died at 1:47 pm Eastern time Friday, at a hospital in Edison, New Jersey, likely from complications related to a 2003 stroke.

He was the winner of numerous Grammy Awards.

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4th August     No Comments

India struggles with encephalitis outbreak

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India struggles with encephalitis outbreak

Sunday, September 4, 2005

Over 400 have died in an outbreak of encephalitis in India‘s northern state of Uttar Pradesh and nearby regions, including neighbouring Nepal. The actual figures are estimated to be much higher, as the current toll only takes into account those that have died at public hospitals, excluding any deaths in villages and private hospitals. A further 1500 or more are estimated to currently be hospitalised with the disease. The majority of the dead and infected are reported to be under 15.

The first cases of the disease this season were reported in late July. The disease is carried by pigs, which then migrates to humans through mosquitos. The outbreak has prompted the Indian government to undertake such measures as deployment of pig catchers in seriously affected areas, distributing thousands of mosquito curtains and spraying pesticides. Several million vials of encephalitis vaccine have also been promised by the government, which will help prepare health agencies for next year. Plans for vaccines to be delivered to the historically most affected areas this year were delayed due to lack of funds and low prioritisation relative to other diseases.

This is not the first time such an event has occurred. Thousands have died of the disease over the past three decades in the region. The most common period for the disease is during the monsoon season (July-September).

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4th August     No Comments

Senior UK politicians talk at Confederation of British Industry conference

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Senior UK politicians talk at Confederation of British Industry conference

Monday, November 21, 2016

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn both spoke at the annual Confederation of British Industry conference today, talking about Britain after its planned ‘Brexit’ from the European Union, and future plans for business.

May formally announced plans to cut corporation tax from 20%, without giving details, in order to discourage businesses from leaving the UK post-Brexit. Corbyn said in his speech he believes investment by the government on things such as infrastructure improvements is shared ground between Labour and businesses but “businesses will need to contribute” meaning “some increase in corporation tax” under his administration.

Theresa May also toned down plans to put ordinary workers on corporate boards, a campaign promise from running to become leader of the ruling Conservative Party. She said she is working to create a “model that works for everyone” after consulting firms and the general public, with possible plans including panels or advisory committees. The General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress responded by saying “Theresa May made a clear promise to have workers represented on company boards […] This is not the way to show that you want to govern for ordinary working people.” Jeremy Corbyn also criticised this announcement saying “we need to see genuine employee representation at board level, which the prime minister promised, but I see is already backing away from.”

Theresa May also announced she wishes to spend £2Bn annually in research and development, as well as plans to start a small business research initiative to look into helping innovators get ahead. Jeremy Corbyn however said he plans to spend 3% of the UK’s GDP on R&D, significantly more than specified by May.

Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for the UK’s economy focussed on investment. Speaking at the conference he said “First and foremost, a Labour government will prioritise investing in our economy.” As well as the investment in research, Corbyn also promised funds for areas including house building and infrastructure. This would be controlled by the proposed “National Investment Bank”. Corbyn said “Our National Investment Bank will deliver long term strategic investment in our under-powered infrastructure and provide the patient finance that our businesses need across the country.”

May told the conference she would not give “a running commentary on every twist and turn” of the Brexit negotiations. This comes after allegation in the press that she she has no plan to keep under wraps, a claim that has been backed up by an alleged leaked internal government memo that talks about a “lack of overall negotiation strategy” within government.

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27th July     No Comments

“Woofstock” dog festival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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“Woofstock” dog festival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

North America’s largest outdoor dog festival came back to Toronto last weekend for its fifth year. It ran from the 9th of June to the 10th of June at Toronto’s historical St. Lawrence Market. A Wikinews reporter was there on Sunday to report on some of the events that happened on the last day.

The “Woofstock” dog festival attracted as many as 140,000 people with their dogs. The festival had tons of accessories, sold under tents, to buy for dogs; food, toys, designer clothes, and more. About 400 vendors and exhibitors were there to promote their products, which also gave private dog companies or groups a chance to show their new products. The local SPCA and some animal rescues were under tents answering questions from visitors. While walking, all visitors could see the CN Tower and other very tall buildings.

One of the local TV stations, Citytv, was there. They hosted a live event at the show which was broadcast on TV. People came up on the stage and asked questions regarding their dogs and the host and co-host answered them.

A man, who called himself the “Chalk Master”, drew two pictures on pavement with chalk. He did it for free but donations were welcome. One was a picture of a girl’s head beside a dog’s head, and another with a wolf.

“Hello Humans. I’ve been invited here to provide your eyeball(s), with some pretty colours. I don’t get paid as I work this weekend strictly for tips… so, if you like what you see please make a DONATION. If you don’t like it simply reach into the pocket of the person next to you and give me their money. CHALK MASTER.”

A contest called “Canada’s top dog” had its own tent with a professional photographer taking pictures of dogs behind a white screen; the winning photo is to be published on the cover of “Puppy and dog basics” magazine.

Large “Gourmet” dog bones were also served from a cart and table.

Next year’s festival is expected to be bigger and better with even more attractions.

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27th July     No Comments

Anniversary of Tak Bai incident marked with lawsuits

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Anniversary of Tak Bai incident marked with lawsuits

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Marking the anniversary of an incident at Tak Bai police station which led to 78 people suffocating while being detained by the Thai army, relatives of the deceased plan to file a lawsuit with the Pattani provincial court seeking 80 million baht (approx. US$2 million, 1.6 million euro) in compensation.

Utt Bueraheng, the lawyer representing the families is confident they will win their case as an investigation into the incident took some disciplinary action against involved senior officers.

The suit will name the Thai Defence Ministry, Army, Royal Thai Police Office, Interior Ministry, and Narathiwat provincial authorities as defendants. Earlier in the week other lawsuits were filed in relation to the incident; in all cases the named defendants are the same.

The Tak Bai incident is one of the most publicised events of the South Thailand insurgency. On October 25, 2004 six local men were arrested, accused of supplying defence force weapons to insurgents. Villagers organised a protest, demanding that the police release the accused. Instead, the police called in army reinforcements who used tear gas and water cannons on the crowd; shooting started, and seven people were killed.

Hundreds of local citizens, mostly young Muslim men, were arrested. They were made to strip to the waist and lie on the ground. Their hands were bound behind their backs and later in the afternoon they were loaded into trucks to be taken to an army camp where they were to be detained. The prisoners were stacked on top of each other in the trucks, and by the time the three-hour trip to the camp was completed, 78 men had suffocated in the heat.

The incident provoked widespread protest, not limited to Muslims in the south. Many non-Muslim Thais were shocked by the army’s behaviour. However the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Sinawatra, gave his full support to the army and until these lawsuits were brought, very little disciplinary action had been taken against those responsible. Thaksin’s response in defending the army’s actions was to say the men died, “because they were already weak from fasting during the month of Ramadan.”

The lawsuits brought earlier this week against the five state agencies seek a total of more than eighteen million baht (approx. US$ 440,000 or 370,000 euros) in compensation. The first lawsuit was filed on behalf of relatives of five of the seven protesters killed outside Tak Bai police station; this suit seeks 5.8 million baht. The second lawsuit was filed by a group of seventeen of the protesters who were injured in the clash with police and security forces; this suit seeks 12.4 million baht compensation for injury and loss of property. All of the lawsuits have been brought with the assistance of the Law Society of Thailand.

The aftermath of the Tak Bai incident saw many of the protesters seeking asylum in neighbouring Malaysia. Recently forty of those who had fled across the border returned after they had been given assurances by authorities regarding their safety.

The leadership of the insurgents remains unclear, with no clearly identified organisational structure, or announced objectives. However, there have been separatists in the former Malay sultanate since the 1930s. Under military rule, they were firmly suppressed and only since early 2004 has violence flared in the troubled provinces. The government reacted to this by declaring Martial law in January of 2004.

Despite the imposition of Martial law, attacks on police, government officials, schools and military compounds continued unabated. This prompted the Prime Minister to introduce an executive decree for administration in emergency situations early in 2005. Additional troops were dispatched to the troubled provinces bringing the total in the area to 30,000; however, lack of counter-insurgency training and experience meant they have done little in the way of quelling the violence. In the past six months the army has reported that 298 have been killed, and over 300 injured in attacks. The estimated total killed since the start of 2004 is claimed to be over one thousand.

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27th July     No Comments

Wikinews Shorts: May 15, 2009

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Wikinews Shorts: May 15, 2009

A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, May 15, 2009.


California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed budget cuts and layoffs for California yesterday.

Californian education budgets would be cut by $3 billion USD for the next five years if California voters gave a yes votes to the budget-related measures for May 19’s special election.

Schwarzenegger is also ready to sell state properties including the San Quentin State Prison and the Los Angeles Coliseum to raise money for the state.

Sources


Nintendo DS sales hit one million units last April. However, even with Nintendo’s moderate success with their DS gaming system, all video game sales have declined 17%.

GameSpot writer Tor Thorsen claims that Nintendo DSi, the current release of the Nintendo DS, is an acronym for “Dominating Sales in America.”

Sources


Eight-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, in a recent conference Thursday, told reporters he will enter a swimming competition today.

This is Phelps’ first swim meet since he was photographed with a marijuana pipe in his mouth.

Phelps will swim the 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly races.

After the marijuana pipe photo was released, Phelps was unsure of whether he would swim again.

Sources


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6th July     No Comments

Musician Prince dies aged 57

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Musician Prince dies aged 57

Friday, April 22, 2016

Musician Prince died at home in Minnesota, United States yesterday.

A publicist confirmed his death.”It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson has died”.

A statement from the Carver County Sheriff’s office said Prince was found in an elevator at his home at Paisley Park Studio. Emergency workers were called, but after they were unable to revive him, he was pronounced dead.

Following Prince’s first album in 1978, he came to prominence in the 1980s. His 1980s releases included 1999, Kiss, Purple Rain, and Sign o’ the Times. He went on to record more than 30 albums.During his career he sold more than 100 million records and had 47 songs reach the US Billboard top 100. Five of those songs, When Doves Cry, Kiss, Let’s Go Crazy, Cream, and Batdance, went to number one. The song When Doves Cry was number one for five weeks.

In 1984 Prince starred in the movie Purple Rain, which was based on his album. The movie’s song score won Prince an Academy Award for best original song score. Prince won seven Grammy awards and in 2004 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.He also wrote songs released successfully by other artists, such as Manic Monday released in 1986 by the Bangles and Nothing Compares 2 U released in 1990 by Sinéad O’Connor.

The Minnesota Star Tribune reported an autopsy will be conducted to determine Prince’s cause of death.

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5th July     No Comments

NTSB releases updates on status of 3 major US investigations

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NTSB releases updates on status of 3 major US investigations

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the agency responsible for investigating transportation accidents in the United States, released updates on three major investigations on June 14.

The NTSB, well known publicly for its involvement in the investigation of aviation incidents which involve harm or loss of human life, is also an agency that oversees the transportation of refined petroleum and gas products, chemicals and minerals.

The agency determined the cause of a natural gas pipeline explosion that killed six. It also detailed the cause of an accidental release of 204,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia from a pipeline in an environmentally sensitive area, and released preliminary information involving two commercial aircraft coming within 30-50 feet of each other on a runway.

In the gas explosion disaster, the towing vessel Miss Megan, which was of specifications that did not require inspection by the United States Coast Guard, was being operated in the West Cote Blanche Bay oil field in Louisiana by Central Boat Rentals on behalf of Athena Construction on October 12, 2006. The Miss Megan was pushing barge IBR 234, which was tied along the starboard side of barge Athena 106, en route to a pile-driving location. Athena Construction did not require its crews to pin mooring spuds (vertical steel shafts extending through wells in the bottom of the boat and used for mooring) securely in place on its barges and consequently this had not been done. During the journey, the aft spud on the Athena 106 released from its fully raised position. The spud dropped into the water and struck a submerged, high-pressure natural gas pipeline. The resulting gas released ignited and created a fireball that engulfed the towing vessel and both barges. The master of the towing vessel and four barge workers were killed. The Miss Megan deckhand and one barge worker survived. One barge worker is officially listed as missing.

The NTSB blames Athena Construction for the disaster, citing in the final report that Athena Construction’s manual contained no procedures mandating the use of the safety devices on the spud winch except during electrical work. It was found that if the Athena 106 crew had used the steel pins to secure the retracted spuds during their transit, a pin would have prevented the aft spud from accidentally deploying. Furthermore, the spud would have remained locked in its lifted position regardless of whether the winch brake mechanism, the spud’s supporting cable, or a piece of connecting hardware had failed.

The NTSB also found that contributing to the accident was the failure of Central Boat Rentals to require, and the Miss Megan master to ensure, that the barge spuds were securely pinned before getting under way. The Board noted that investigators found no evidence that the Miss Megan master or deckhand checked whether the spuds had been properly secured before the tow began. While Central Boat Rentals had a health and safety manual and trained its crews, the written procedures did not specifically warn masters about the need to secure spuds or other barge equipment before navigating. The NTSB stated that the company’s crew should have been trained to identify potential safety hazards on vessels under their control.

NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said of the investigation’s results, “Having more rigorous requirements in place could have prevented this accident from occurring. Not only do these regulations need to be put in place but it is imperative that they are enforced and adhered to.”

The NTSB has made a number of safety recommendations as a result of this accident and the subsequent investigation. Recommendations were made to Athena Construction and Central Boat Rentals to develop procedures and train the employees of its barges to use the securing pins to hold spuds safely in place before transiting from one site to another.

The most major of the other recommendations are:

To the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

  • Direct the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health to issue the following documents document to the maritime industry: (1) a fact sheet regarding the accident, and (2) a guidance document regarding the need to secure the gear on barges, including spud pins, before the barges are moved, and detailing any changes to your memorandum of understanding with the Coast Guard.

To the U. S. Coast Guard

  • Finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels.
  • Review and update your memorandum of understanding with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to specifically address your respective oversight roles on vessels that are not subject to Coast Guard inspection.

The NTSB also released the result of its investigation into an environmental disaster in Kansas on October 27, 2004 in which 204,000 gallons (4,858 barrels) of anhydrous ammonia was spilled from a ruptured pipeline in Kingman into an environmentally sensitive area. Chemicals from the pipeline entered a nearby stream and killed more than 25,000 fish, including some fish from threatened species.

The incident reached the scale that it did due to operator error after the initial rupture. The 8 5/8-inch diameter steel pipeline, which was operated by Enterprise Products Operating L.P., burst at 11:15 a.m. in an agricultural area about 6 miles east of Kingman, Kansas. A drop in pipeline pressure, indicating abnormal conditions or a possible compromise in pipeline integrity, set off alarms displayed on the computerized pipeline monitoring system. Shortly after the first alarm the pipeline controller, in an attempt to remedy the low pressure, increased the flow of anhydrous ammonia into the affected section of pipeline. A total of 33 minutes elapsed between the time when the first alarm indicated a problem with the pipeline and the initiation of a shutdown.

In its initial report to the National Response Center (NRC), the pipeline operator’s accident reporting contractor reported a release of at least 20 gallons of ammonia, telling the NRC that an updated estimate of material released would be reported at a later time. No such report was ever made. Because of the inaccurate report, the arrival of representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency was delayed by a full day, affecting the oversight of the environmental damage mitigation efforts.

The cause of the rupture itself was determined to be a pipe gouge created by heavy equipment damage to the pipeline during construction in 1973 or subsequent excavation activity at an unknown time that initiated metal fatigue cracking and led to the eventual rupture of the pipeline.

“We are very fortunate that such highly toxic chemicals of the size and scope involved in this accident were not released in a populated area,” commented Rosenker. “Had this same quantity of ammonia been released near a town or city, the results could have been catastrophic.”

As a result of this accident, the NTSB made the following safety recommendations:

To the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:

  • Require that a pipeline operator must have a procedure to calculate and provide a reasonable initial estimate of released product in the telephonic report to the National Response Center.
  • Require that a pipeline operator must provide an additional telephonic report to the National Response Center if significant new information becomes available during the emergency response.
  • Require an operator to revise its pipeline risk assessment plan whenever it has failed to consider one of more risk factors that can affect pipeline integrity.

To Enterprise Products Operating L.P.:

  • Provide initial and recurrent training for all controllers that includes simulator or noncomputerized simulations of abnormal operating conditions that indicate pipeline leaks.

“The severity of this release of dangerous chemicals into the community could have been prevented,” said Rosenker. “The safety recommendations that we have made, if acted upon, will reduce the likelihood of this type of accident happening again.”

As well as concluding their investigation of the above accidents, the NTSB also released preliminary information regarding a serious runway incursion at San Francisco International Airport between two commercial aircraft on May 26, 2007.

At about 1:30 p.m. the tower air traffic controller cleared SkyWest Airlines flight 5741, an Embraer 120 arriving from Modesto, California, to land on runway 28R. Forgetting about the arrival airplane, the same controller then cleared Republic Airlines flight 4912, an Embraer 170 departing for Los Angeles, to take off from runway 1L, which intersects runway 28R.

After the SkyWest airliner touched down, the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) alerted and the air traffic controller transmitted “Hold, Hold, Hold” to the SkyWest flight crew in an attempt to stop the aircraft short of runway 1L. The SkyWest crew applied maximum braking that resulted in the airplane stopping in the middle of runway 1L. As this was occurring, the captain of Republic Airlines flight 4912 took control of the aircraft from the first officer, realized the aircraft was traveling too fast to stop, and initiated an immediate takeoff. According to the crew of SkyWest 5741, the Republic Airlines aircraft overflew theirs by 30 to 50 feet. The Federal Aviation Administration has categorized the incident as an operational error.

The NTSB sent an investigator to San Francisco, who collected radar data, recorded air traffic control communications, and flight crew statements, and interviewed air traffic control personnel prior to the NTSB making the preliminary release.

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26th June     No Comments

Egyptian treasures found in ancient tomb

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Egyptian treasures found in ancient tomb

Friday, March 13, 2009

A team of archaeologists excavating an Ancient Egyptian tomb have discovered golden jewelry in a recently-discovered lower chamber at the Valley of the Kings burial site in Luxor, Egypt.

Two golden rings and five golden earrings were found in the tomb of Djehuty, an 18th-dynasty official of Queen Hatshepsut, and were probably the property of Djehuty or his family.

The discovery was announced by Farouk Hosni, Egypt’s current Minister of Culture.

Djehuty was overseer of the treasury and overseer of works for the Queen. Hatshepsut reigned approximately 1479–1458 BCE. Djehuty was responsible for managing the huge amounts of precious goods brought in from Egypt’s military expedition to Punt in the Horn of Africa and the vast building projects of Hatshepsut which have made the female pharaoh one of the most-remembered of any from ancient Egypt.

Djehuty died after Hatshepsut did, sometime during the reign of Thutmosis III. Both Hatshepsut’s and Thutmosis’s names are recorded on the tomb. In a fashion typical of ancient Egyptian rivalries, Hatshepsut’s name was partly obscured on the monument over the tomb sometime after the queen’s death.

The team, led by José Manuel Galán of the National Research Center (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC), in Madrid, Spain, had been excavating the tomb, designated TT11 and located in the necropolis of Dra’ Abu el-Naga’, since 2002. While much of Djehuty’s funerary equipment was lost to fire in antiquity, the lower chamber of his tomb was concealed at the end of a three-meter shaft and discovered at the end of 2008.

A superficial description of the tomb itself was recorded almost two hundred years ago by 19th-century French Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion, rubble blocking the entrance hindered excavation until the 21st century. In that time, emphasis in Egyptology has changed from the cataloging of treasures to the investigation of ancient culture, life and religion.

Since excavation began, Djehuty’s tomb has yielded a number of surprises. It was discovered that the tomb was re-used repeatedly up to and during the Greco-Roman period. There is an unusual face-on depiction of pharaoh Thutmosis III hunting ducks, and the mummy of a young, bejewelled, as-yet unidentified woman.

In 2007, 44 preserved bunches of flowers thought to be from Djehuty’s funeral were found in the site. In their 8th season of excavation, which ended on February 22, 2009, the team also found considerable evidence that below Djehuty’s tomb is a network of burial sites from the 11th dynasty, four thousand years old.

The lower chamber also displays passages from the Egyptian funerary text the Book of the Dead on its walls and a colorful mural of the goddess Nut, an embodiment of the heavens, on the ceiling. The names of Djehuty and his parents were also intact in the second chamber; the names were defaced in the previously-known first chamber of the tomb, which had also been looted.

According to a press release from Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Djehuty’s tomb is only the fifth known decorated burial chamber of the 18th dynasty. An additional unusual feature of the tomb is that its upper chamber is decorated in relief, rather than simply paint. When the excavation is completed, Dr Galán’s team plans to open the site to the public as the carved stoneworks will not be destroyed by tourists’ activities as paint would.

The identification of Djehuty is a complicated one, as a number of officials of the 18th dynasty bore the name, including a general and several governors. The name itself is an alternate transliteration of the name of the Egyptian god usually written in English as Thoth.

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